This study investigated the association between family reunification for runaway youth and other factors (i.e., participation in family crisis counseling, number of individual/ group counseling sessions, youth's age, gender, parents living together at intake, total number of presenting problems, type of presenting problems, and self-reported physical and/or sexual abuse). The participants were 586 youth who were between 9 to 18 years of age and were admitted to a runaway youth shelter in a large metropolitan area in a Midwestern state. The participants included 322 females and 264 males. The majority were African/African Americans (52.9%) and Caucasians (26.5%). The data were collected by youth counselors during the intake interview from youth and/or their parent(s) at the shelter.
The findings indicated that family crisis counseling, individual/group counseling, and youth age are associated with family reunification. There was a statistically significant positive correlation between family crisis counseling and family reunification. Family reunification was more likely to occur if youth presented more problems and parents were living together. Runaway youth who come with a greater number of family-centered problems were more likely to reunify with their families than youth who have fewer family-centered problems. The results showed no significant associations between family reunification and reported physical and/or sexual abuse among youth in this sample.
The limitations of the study included the use of self-reported data, the emphasis on family reunification at discharge, the unequal number of individual/group and family sessions among participants, and the correlational nature of the study. Recommendations for future research include investigating factors leading to runaway decisions, differences among youth subgroups, and comparison between runaway shelters. In addition, longitudinal research and qualitative methods would be useful in further study of runaway youth.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2008. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisors: John L. Romano, Ph.D.
Sherri L. Turner, Ph.D. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 129 pages, appendices A-B.
Runaway youth: predictors of family reunification.
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